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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Algebra of Assortative Encounters and the Evolution of Cooperation

  • Author(s): Bergstrom, Ted;
  • et al.

This paper explores the quantitative relation between non random, assortative matching and the maintenance of cooperative behavior under evolutionary dynamics. It considers a population of individuals who are hardwired to play either cooperate or defect. They meet other individuals according to some random process and play their programmed strategy in a game of Prisoners' Dilemma. The type that gets the higher expected payoff reproduces more rapidly. The paper defines an index of assortativity of encounters and develops an "algebra of assortative encounters." The paper also calculates the index of assortativity for games between relatives with either cultural or genetic inheritance and shows the logical connection between the index of assortativity and Hamilton's theory of kin selection. The index of assortativity is used to determine the population dynamics when players select their partners, using partially informative cues about each others' types.

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